A Love Letter to Dordrecht

My dearest Dordrecht,

You need to know that you’re very special to me. You’re a city like no other. You give me this best feeling of being home. As soon as I can see the big and skewed church from the train window, I just smile and sigh of satisfaction. And when I’m in that train, I always wave at your beautiful skyline. When I have a weekend off, I cannot decide which part of you I want to see most. I adore you!

You saw me grow up, lovely city. As a little girl I sat on the back of my mother’s bike. My short little legs were dangling in the bike bags and my blond ponytail was waving in the wind. We went grocery shopping at the vegetable market, where the farmer gave me fruits to taste and extra strawberries to take home. We went to the library to borrow lots of books and I enjoyed myself for hours, playing and reading around. My brother I climbed the old gnarled trees at the big pond; we organized club meetings and wrote each other letters in a secret language in the grass underneath the willows. I learned how to skate on the ditches next to my house and I earned my first money by playing my recorder in the shopping center.

My brother I climbed the old gnarled trees at the big pond. We organized club meetings and wrote each other letters in a secret language in the grass underneath the willows.

When I grew older, I got to know you better. I walked slowly through your city center to buy clothes at a few of my favorite shops and begged my mother for an extra pair of shoes. I biked to the riding school, the church and the gym for my weekly folk dance lesson. By the time I was 18 and attending high school, I felt more at home in your historical city center than in my own home. Hanging out with friends after school at the Sumatraplein. Making music at the Merwesteinpark next to the deer. Eating ice cream at La Vanezia, quickly buying two Dutch croquettes at the Ratelband snack bar, or enjoying cinnamon rolls on the Friday market. After school, I wandered around the city center and did my homework on a bench in the historical harbor or in the library when it was raining.

Library in Dordrecht

Love letter to Dordrecht

I searched for hidden places to be alone: a little stairway next to the Long Iron Bridge, the wooden platform of the crane in the Kuipershaven, a bench with a beautiful view on the railway bridge. You dried my tears and made me laugh and giggle. You fed the million butterflies in my stomach when my first true love and I were playing guitar and violin for hours on that long wooden pier at the Bomkade. When he and I were reading children’s books to each other in the almshouse, you were listening silently.

As my passion for musicality and singing slowly awake, you were enjoying all those exciting moments with me. When I first became passionate about photography, you were the grateful subject of my photos. In my countless handwritten letters, you where the decor for complicated thoughts and confusing emotions. And still, I have to smile everywhere I go, because of all those good memories you gave me. We’re grown together.

Love letter to Dordrecht

Still, I have to smile everywhere I go, because of all those good memories you gave me. We’re grown together.

In those three years that I lived and studied elsewhere, I’ve been thinking of you every day. When I was wandering around and searching in vain for a silent place to think, I missed your river and quiet dikes. When I felt bored and biked towards the city center, I missed your lovely library. I missed the beautiful gardens of Villa Augustus, and the soothing, serene atmosphere of spending a Sunday morning in your harbors. That’s why I came back after three years and I have never regretted it. I enjoy every day.

Every day I am elsewhere, I’m looking forward to the moment I can spend my spare time in your midst. I wander around your beautiful city center for hours and hours, endlessly cycle along the dikes to empty my head or sit on a bench to watch the water of the river passing by. It is a joy to simply read a magazine in the library and eat some fish at the market. I visit several of my favorite shops and write a letter on a bench in the sun. An afternoon in your midst is never a waste of time. It gives me this holiday feeling, a smile on my face and peace in my mind.

Love letter to Dordrecht

Historic houses in Dordrecht

Dear beautiful Dordt, I love you. Clearly, all those people referring so easily to the famous proverb do not have a clue. “Hoe dichter bij Dordt, hoe rotter het wordt” they say laughing and provoking, literally meaning “the closer to Dordt, the worse it gets”. But when I quickly answer with the second half of the proverb, they don’t know what to say anymore. “En zit je erin, dan heb je het prima naar je zin”,  literally meaning “and if you’re inside of it, you enjoy it!”.

Because honestly: I never feel bored when I’m in your midst. No matter how often I might move or how many cities and countries I might visit in my life, there will always be only one city that is so dear to me that I will always feel homesick: Dordrecht. I’m a true Dordtenaar. I was born and raised in you. And if I am lucky enough to have the chance, I will eventually die in you.

Lots of love,

Marijke

The Love Letter Project

Love Letter Project

The Globonaut Love Letter Project is a team effort by international travel enthusiasts that examines the fascinating relationship between cities and people. It is an exploration of how people make a city come alive, but also how a city becomes part of who you are. Most of all, the Love Letter Project is a celebration of strong local bonds in an age of rapid globalisation, showing how local and global aren’t necessarily opposite terms.

 

Leave a Reply